Thermography was born in the 1950s, and was used as a top-secret cold war spying device. In 1957, a surgeon, Dr. R. Lawson, discovered that his breast cancer patients had higher skin temperatures over their cancer area. He was the first to use Breast Thermography to study breast cancers. Since the 1970s, Thermography has been used for many diagnostic purposes, from finding sources of nerve inflammation, infection and circulatory problems, to finding cracks in airplanes.
Thermography equipment has evolved significantly since those days. Early problems such as improper detector sensitivity, thermal drift, calibration and analog interface have long since been corrected.
Research problems were encountered early on that led medicine to pursue Mammography instead of Thermography. For instance, Thermography studies identified breast cancers that could not be verified by Mammograms until eight to ten years later. Initially, researchers thought Thermography was giving false positive information. Mistakes in another test also inhibited the acceptance of Thermography. The Breast Cancer Detection and Demonstration Project (BCDDP) 1973-1979 had a poor study design, a faulty premise, poor statistical breakdown, but most significantly, poor training of Thermography technicians as opposed to excellent training of Mammography technicians.
Since this time, there are over 800 peer reviewed studies on Breast Thermography in the Index Medicus Literature. Over 300,000 women are included as study participants, and studies have followed patients for up to 12 years. These studies reflect that Breast Thermography, when properly interpreted and regarded as a dynamic physiological measurement, has a 90% accuracy and sensitivity to detect changes in breast tissue necessary for prevention and assessment regarding cancer suspicion.